New Festival of Colour manager says community involvement key

Laura Willamson.
Laura Willamson.
Wanaka's new Festival of Colour general manager is determined to keep the community involvement in the festival despite Wanaka's predicted exponential growth over the next 20 years.

The Southern Lakes Arts Festival Trust on Sunday announced the appointment of former festival performer and festival schools co-ordinator Laura Willamson as the new the Festival of Colour general manager, replacing Lindsey Schofield who resigned last month.

The Canadian-born performance poet, journalist, author, cyclist, former teacher and ski instructor moved to New Zealand in 1997.

She said she had attended all seven festivals and believed community involvement was what made it so special.

''There is this buzz in Wanaka when the festival is on. Everyone goes to it and talks about it, and I want to make sure that continues as Wanaka grows.''

The 47-year-old said she would be approaching the job from the perspective of someone who had lived in Wanaka a long time and engaged with ''multiple parts of the community''.

She has worked at Cardrona Alpine Resort as a ski instructor, was heavily involved with Bike Wanaka, retrained as a high school teacher and taught at Mt Aspiring College for 10 years and was the school's co-ordinator for the past two festivals.

This year Ms Willamson performed at the festival as part of the Blue Moments Project (an evening of jazz, blues and spoken word) and has previously been an Aspiring Conversations speaker.

She said having had an involvement with the festival in so many ways was one of the reasons why she got the job.

''There are lots of facets to this job, so you need to be able to offer a wide range of skills and in true Wanaka fashion I've had jobs in a lot of different areas.''

She only found out she got the job three days ago.

''In the first instance all I want to do is learn the job and the systems and support the festival the best way I can, but in the long run I am looking forward to working with festival director Philip Tremewan and the excellent board to look at how we can innovate and evolve as Wanaka evolves,'' she said.

Ms Willamson will start this week and begins planning for the next Aspiring Conversations. The programme launch is due in February.

kerrie.waterworth@odt.co.nz

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